Internet Horology Club 185
Elgin Watch

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April 27, 2003, 15:23
Wayne C. Anderson
Elgin Watch
Would anyone be able to identify this Elgin Wrist Watch? No model/jewel count shown on the dial/back, but back is marked "Base Metal". Thanks for any infomation.


April 27, 2003, 18:00
Dan Ravenna
The back simply states information regarding the case. If you take it off, you will see the movement. I am not much of an Elgin-kind of guy, but if you can post a picture of the back, you should get some responses.


April 28, 2003, 11:11
Wayne C. Anderson
Thanks for the advice, took the back off and its a Model 554, 17J S/N U935672. What does wrist watch serial number with a letter prefix indicate? if anything. Any more information about this watch? The dial is very dark/dirty, any recommendation about how to clean? Thanks


April 28, 2003, 15:34
Jack Davis
Hi Wayne,

The U replaces the first two digits of the serial number. In this case, 44, manufactured in 1946. Elgin started doing this with it's watches about 1939.

About the only other information I can add is that the company made this grade from 1940 to 1951 for a total of 1,358,000. It was the first 8/0s Model 7.

As to the dial, a lot of pocket watch guys like to use a solution of Smoker's Polident and soak dirty dials to clean them. I have not tried it as yet.

April 28, 2003, 16:28
Jerry Treiman
Regarding cleaning the dial, Polident and similar cleaners are often used on enamel dials, but I would hesitate to use it on a metal dial. Even with an enamel dial you need to be careful that the solution does not etch the copper feet or base plate (it sure brightens it up). On a painted metal dial you might end up cleaning all of the numbers, lines and name off. I ended up losing the name from an enamel dial where it had been painted on after the enamel was fired.
April 28, 2003, 18:43
Wayne Schlitt

Jack's info is correct, for all practical purposes. However, strictly speaking, I'm not sure that Elgin considered the letter prefixes as replacing the million digits.

During some years, Elgin was producing watches with no letter prefix along with several(!) different letter prefixes. If the letter prefixes were simply subsitutes for the million digits, then Elgin was producing watches duplicate numbers. The introduction of the letter prefix may have been related to opening of Elgin's second factory. It is possible that Elgin used letter prefixes for all watches made in one factor, while it used a different letter for the other factory.

If you are interested in even more technical details, check out the Glossary: Serial Number, Grade, Model, Class, etc. webpage. You could have also found most of the info that Jack provided by using the Online Elgin Database to look up SNU935672.

The Elgin Watch Collectors website